Online househelp… China’s non-shoppers… Rental vacancies’ record low… Website matches SMEs and capital…

Online househelp

Beverly Hills-born is an online marketplace where busy people can quickly find others to do their chores, from mowing the lawn or picking up dry cleaning to researching a cruise or planning a party, reports Springwise.

You post your task by choosing a category and describing it in detail. Business and individuals then bid for the task with a price and description of the service they can provide. You can check out online references and credentials of the supplier before accepting the bid.

To establish trust between buyers and providers, DoMyStuff provides an online escrow system that allows customers to make a forward payment for a task into an escrow account. While the task is being completed, neither customer nor assistant have access to the funds, but the service provider knows the money is there. When the job is done, the money is released.

DoMyStuff’s charges service providers a commission of 7–10% if they’re awarded a job. The company is currently focused on Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. One to start up here before they go global?

China’s missing shoppers

It’s not what retailers eyeing off China as a big new market want to hear, but China is failing to stimulate consumer spending among its 1.3 billion people. The Australian reports that lack of interest in the South China Mall, the biggest shopping centre in the world, as evidence of the problem.

The mall, in central Dongguan, has 900,000 square metres of retail space but attracts only 10,000 shoppers a day; developers had expected 10 times that number. Only a few of the 1500 stores are leased. The city of six million consists largely of factory workers who say they cannot afford to shop there. Private consumption accounts for just 35% of GDP in China, possibly the lowest level of any major economy in history.

Rental vacancies lowest in 40 years

Australia’s residential real estate rental vacancy rate dropped to a low of just 1.36% in the final three months of 2006, a record not seen since statistics were first compiled in 1969, according to new figures from Treasury.

Treasurer Peter Costello has urged the state governments to improve housing affordability by scrapping stamp duties, but welfare and other lobby groups are arguing he should increase the first-home owners’ grant in next month’s federal budget.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is calling for tax credits to encourage investment in low-cost rental housing. The tax credit option is based on a successful US model. The cost of the ACOSS proposals could be offset by removing tax breaks on non-essentials such as company cars, trusts and private health insurance.

New site bringing capital to SMEs

A new website to match software start-ups with venture capitalists was launched yesterday, backed by Microsoft and developed by Group Intelligence.

SoftwareAP aims to allow software companies to make a pitch, for venture capitalists and business angels to identify areas of interest, and for government to post information about business packages. The site also allows easier access for Australian companies to venture capital.


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